Since I first got my 3D printer back in 2014, I’ve been designing and 3D printing various tool holders for the pegboards in my workshop. I’ve uploaded the 3D models for free so that people can print their own, and so far they’ve been downloaded more than 1500 times. It’s nice to know that things you originally designed just for your own use can be of help for other people as well.
Bit holder, shown here with chamfer, deburring, phillips, pozidriv, slot, hex and torx bits. This is used very often.
Screwdriver holder. This was the first pegboard tool holder I designed, and is the one I use the most. That funnel shape is really helpful when you’re in a hurry.
Tool hangers, in a variety of shapes and sizes. Good for placing tools where there is a free spot.
Scalpel holder. I use scalpels all the time when cleaning up 3D prints. With this I always have them at the ready, and I never have to worry about where I put those sharp, pointy things. If they are not in my hands, they are in the holders.
Last year I was asked to make a bowl for holding yarn while knitting. Something to hold the thread in place would also be good. I designed a bowl with a rim that ended in two curly horns that one could easily pull a thread through, simply by pulling it to the side and up
To give the bowl some weight I glued a stack of hard drive platters to the bottom, making it the exact same diameter to match.
I also added the nickname of the recipient to the outside of the bowl in raised letters, made as in one continuous thread (except the dot over the i).
For Christmas 2016, I decided to go big and invite my parents to join me and my wife on a trip to Xi’an, China – flight and hotel included. Such a gift can of course not be delivered in a plain envelope, so I started to design and make two custom boxes that would hold the invitation letters.
I based the design on a jewelry box I had previously designed, but almost every detail was refined and improved. I also incorporated metal feet and corners into the design, adding spacers to ensure that no nails would protruded through the lid and reinforcing the bottom to support the feet fasteners.
I 3D printed the boxes using a material that looks and feels like somewhere between wood and clay. Due to under-extrusion when printing, the intricate patterns I designed on the inside of the boxes got a distinct texture in what I would call a happy accident.
On the inside of the lids, I also added my parent’s names, painting them black in an attempt to resemble Chinese calligraphy.
The nails for the feet and top corners were not hammered in, but melted in place using a wood burning iron, pliers and a good deal of patience.
The cores of the hinges were made using a clear PETG filament, slightly heated and flattened at the ends.
To top it off, I printed two miniature terracotta warriors that I found online here and here, in preparation for the full-size versions we will see when we get to the 8000 man large terracotta army in Xi’an.
Time to design, print, clean up and assemble: Just over 100 hours.
The last few months, I’ve been designing, 3D printing and giving away door signs to friends and family. I’d like to share some of them.
It started when I made one for myself and my wife:
This was made using a plastic filament containing 35% real powdered wood. There are some really cool things you can do with this; sanding, drilling and staining will work with about the same properties as real wood. Since wood will change color when getting closer to burning temperature, I was able to develop a method for simulating natural wood grain – by randomly changing the temperature between the individual print layers, spanning a total range of about 30 degrees (C). This had to be done in waves, so that there would not be more than a 3 degree difference between two intermediate layers; If the printer is not able to get close to the target temperature within a certain time, a security feature in the printer firmware can abort the print and shut down the printer. This is because a large temperature difference between the measured and target temperatures could indicate that either the heater element or the thermistor have come loose; the automatic shutdown kicks in to prevent potential fire hazards.
The printout took about 40 hours, but in hindsight I wish that I would printed it even slower. Printing too fast often causes ghost effects around details, called “ringing”. This happens when the print head makes a sudden direction change and the inertia of the head causes vibrations that show up in the print. Unfortunately, I was not able to get rid of these effects even with sanding from 120 up to 800 grit sand paper. Aside from sanding, I enhanced the letter details with scalpel, dentist’s tools and small diamond files. But I wanted to accentuate the letters even more, and went with a few layers of dark mahogany wood stain. After drying, I sanded the entire sign again to remove the staining on everything but the debossed letters. Lastly, I finished the sign off with two layers of polyurethane to give it some surface protection and a glossy finish. I was worried that this would take away from the wood look, but it turned out pretty good. Perhaps a bit to much yellow, but good enough for an apartment door.
Next was a door sign for our friends who just got engaged. This was still being printed while they were visiting, so I didn’t have time to do a photo shoot before they brought it home – hence the CAD rendering. The outermost frame was based on a free vector graphic that I found here, but I had to remake it quite a bit to make it work.
After that, I designed a couple of things for my brother. He collects and restores vintage drums, so I made a sign for his workshop along with a personalized, fully functioning drum tuning key. I tried to make the font as close as possible to the one in his favorite drum brand, DW Drums.
I also made him a small wooden sign using a literal translation of his name, with integrated magnets to put on a steel door or locker.
Finally, a door sign for the his family. The metal corners were fastened them by pushing the nails in using a wood burning iron. The iron heated up the nails, the nails melted the surrounding plastic, and when cooled the plastic solidified around the nails. I opted on only using nails on the short side of the metal brackets to avoid having to cut them down from the back side.
I used the same type of corners on a door sign to my sister-in-law, who also got engaged recently. This time I went larger, and played around with putting part of the text outside of the rectangular base shape. I also made the sign thicker and integrated four magnets directly into the backside of the sign, so that it can be easily fastened on their (steel) apartment door. Or the fridge, if they prefer. I used the same method to fasten the corners as before, but this time cut the nails in half and inserted them from the front of the sign.
I’ve done a number of other signs as well, but those have mostly been variants of the ones shown in this post. These are the essentials from the last
As you might know by now, I ride motorcycles. When I do, I like to use my phone as speedometer, GPS and music player. There are plenty of generic handlebar mounts out there, but they all have the same limitations;
Having the screen constantly on draws a lot of battery, and there is no easy way to charge the phone while riding. Sure, you could connect a power adapter and fiddle with the connector every time you place or remove your phone from the mount, but that is cumbersome – and unsafe if it’s raining.
Riding in direct sunlight requires setting the screen brightness to 100% to be readable. Aside from the increased power draw issue, no available products I’ve found had a visor that could increase readability on the screen.
Most handlebar mounts are not made for high speeds. I have previously used one advertised for “bicycles and motorbikes”, but that one came apart while riding over 100km/h on the highway. The phone was only saved by the fact that I had a wired headset plugged in, leaving it hanging until I could safely pull over.
I decided to design and 3D print my own, specifically for my phone; Samsung Galaxy S5, which is itself waterproof unless you open the plastic tab to connect a USB cable to charge it.
After a number of revisions, I had a fully working prototype that included wireless charging. After testing it out, I could refine it further, and I finally had a design I was happy with. It will probably not win any beauty contests, but it’s extremely easy to use and works just as intended. I used the previous revision for more than 10’000 km (from a single print), so it’s been extremely reliable.
I have since made additional improvements and the next version is ready.
Access to all buttons, including volume. Power button requires you to flip up the visor.
Drain holes (if left outside in rain).
Auto locking visor.
Recess for camera.
How to use
Flip the lid up, slide the phone in, flip the lid down and you are ready to go. Starting the bike will turn on the built-in Qi charger, which will detect if the phone is in place. If it is, the charger will engage and power the phone wirelessly using resonant inductive coupling. This allows you to have the screen on at all time and still arrive to your destination with a fully charged battery.
I used PLA filament for my prints. I considered ABS, which would at first glance appear to be a better choice, were it not for it’s high sensitive to UV radiation (sunlight). PLA is on the other hand more sensitive to heat, but the temperatures in Sweden rarely go high enough to compromise the structural integrity of pieces of this size. New materials come out all the time, and I’m sure there are better options out there by now, but PLA has worked for me.
Stainless steel mounting
Mounting the holder on the handlebar requires 4 x stainless M6 40mm bolts with Allen/Hex socket heads, along with matching locking nuts. One extra bolt and nut of the same size is used as hinge for the self-locking visor.
If you can get it, use non-magnetic stainless steel – test by holding a magnet to it and see if it sticks. This is to avoid causing interference in the induction-based wireless charging, which can also cause magnetic metal in close proximity to get warm. The charger does have a shielding plate, and even without it the distance to the bolts should be big enough, but better safe than sorry.
Note: Even when specified as non-magnetic stainless steel, bolts and nuts can still have a weak reaction to a magnet. This should be just fine).
A cheap Qi charger or DIY Qi kit is placed in the compartment directly behind the phone, which will transfer the power from the charger to the Qi receiver pad in the phone. Both the charger and receiver pad can be found on eBay for less than 3€ each, including shipping.
These chargers/kits usually have Micro USB sockets for power input. The power socket is placed downward, at an angle that makes it impossible for rain and splashes to get to it. The charger is then fastened and waterproofed using hot glue or silicon sealant. To power the Qi charger, you have a few options:
A. Use a portable USB battery pack. There are a plethora of options out there in different shape and size. If you don’t want to make modifications on your motorcycle, or want to use this mount on a bicycle, this is your best option.
B. Power it directly from the motorcycle. To do this, you need a 12V to USB (or Micro USB) adapter, you can find cheap waterproof variants on eBay.
Many bikes already have a relayed auxiliary 12V jack inside the headlight housing, this would be the easiest option. If not available, using a relay to only provide power when the ignition is turned on is highly recommended. Though the power draw from the Qi charger itself is minimal when no phone is detected, some power adapters can drain the battery if left connected with the bike not running for a couple of days. A simple switch can be used to prevent this, but you always run the risk of forgetting to turn it off. Using a relay completely eliminates that risk.
If you don’t already have it, a Qi receiver is needed. This is placed inside your phone between the battery and the back cover. It usually have 2 or 3 pins, depending on model. Additionally, you will need:
Print all parts. Recommended layer height is 0.1mm if you want it smooth. I went with 75% infill to be on the safe side.
Sand, polish, prime, paint, acetone treat or anything you like (optional). The print shown in photos here did not get any post treatment except for removing supports. This will show you the raw look pretty much straight out of the printer.
Test the Qi charger – if you have still not installed the Qi receiver in your phone, see step 8 for an example. Mine shows a faint red light when power is on but no phone is detected, and a bright blue light when a phone is detected and charging. If a phone is detected but has a bad connection (coils in charger and receiver doesn’t line up), it will blink. As you can see, the lower/right side of the phone has a better connection than the upper/left:
Place the charger in the cavity of the printed mount (body) with the port down. Plug it in and insert your phone. If it charges keeps and doesn’t lose the connection every 10 seconds or so, you can just glue the charger in place and skip ahead to step 16. If not, we need to line up the coils in the charger and receiver.
Unplug the charger and pry it open:
Unscrew any tiny screws that holds the PCB to the case:
Remove the innards of the charger and turn it over. This one has a cracked shield, but should still work:
Next, time to have a look at the Qi receiver. Remove your phone’s rear cover and determine where in the Qi receiver pad the coil is. If not clearly marked out, you can usually feel it by pressing down on it. Here I have marked it out with a colored pen to demonstrate the next step:
Now we need Line up the the printed charger cover to the center of the phone (hint: It’s at 71mm), with the opening of the cover facing towards you. Make a vertical line on the inside of the cover along the center of the receiver coil:
Line up the printed charger cover to the top (from your POV) of the phone. Make a horizontal line on the inside of the cover along the center of the receiver coil. After this you can put the cover back on your phone.
Read ahead a few steps, the following should be done in a fairly quick order:
Add a few dabs of hot glue or epoxy glue to the charger coil:
Turn the coil over and place it as close to the cross marking on the cover as possible while still being able to reach the Micro USB port through the opening of the case. Attach a cable to make it easier to see if the port can be reached and is straight:
Hold the PCB straight and apply hot glue or epoxy generously to the port with the cable still attached. (Tip: If you don’t want to clean up glue from your fancy cable, use a sacrificial or already broken cable. It only needs to be attached in this step to prevent glue from entering the port.) Keep adding glue until it it reaches the brim of the cover, while holding the PCB steady until the glue begins to solidify. The glue will both keep the PCB in place and keep moisture out.
After a minute or two, before the glue (or epoxy) is fully hardened, unplug the cable while holding the PCB secure. We only want the cable loose, not all the glue.
Let it solidify completely, then trim the excess glue along the port edge. The entrance to the cover should now be completely sealed, while allowing a Micro USB cable to be connected.
Time for the next chapter. We will now attach the charger/cover to the main body of the mount, then seal the edges.
Start by masking the body (cavity side) with masking tape, then trimming the edges with a scalpel or craft knife, This will help us get a nice sharp edge for the sealant.
Place the charger/cover in the cavity with the port facing the bottom hole of the body.
Apply a sealant as hot glue, epoxy glue or silicon along the edges of the cover. If you don’t want it all over the cover, you can place something round in the middle, such as the bottom of the original Qi charger case:
Before hardening completely, remove the center object (if used):
Trim sealant with something sharp:
Remove masking tape:
Place phone in the mount to make sure the sealant is not protruding so much as to block it:
Place two nuts in the upper holes as in the photo. Nylon lock (if used) should point up:
Place the visor so that if blocks the nuts. Fasten it with a bolt and nut:
You should now have something that resembles an angry pig:
Place the phone in the mount and make sure that you can close the visor:
Connect a Micro USB cable to a charger and verify that the phone is charging:
Insert the remaining two nuts. You can now attach it to your handlebar using the clamps and bolts:
Connect the 12V to Micro USB cable. You’re all done!
Enjoy your new mount! Now you never have to worry about getting lost or your phone running out of battery while riding again. Just remember to keep your eyes on the road!
I like small wallets. I also like them to hold plenty of cards, with at least 3 of them easily accessible. For this, the only available choices usually involves elastic bands that stretches with time and gets stuck in the pocket edge. I therefore decided to design and 3D print my own wallet, using a flexible TPE filament.
My first design had a classic bi-fold setup, with a separate bill compartment, 6 card slots but no space for coins. This worked surprisingly well, and I used this for a couple of months. Though being smaller than my previous, store-bought wallet, I wanted to go even smaller. I realized just how seldom I actually use cash, as there is hardly a store in Sweden that doesn’t accept cards. So I decided to skip the bill compartment and make a wallet with the smallest possible footprint I could, still being able to hold all the cards that I use on a regular basis. The result was a wallet with a size less that 97x57x12mm – about 75% of a deck of cards.
It has 4 easy accessible slots for the most common cards, and a recessed middle slot for folded emergency cash and up to 3 other cards – altogether more than the bigger wallet, not counting the bill compartment.
This is now my default wallet, and I use it daily in my front jeans pocket. After more than 2 months of use, there are so far no visible marks of wear or signs of deterioration. The fit for the cards are near perfect, and I never have to worry about dropping the cards – I can shake it upside-down without the cards moving, but can easily take out the cards when I want to.
Our home server/HTPC broke down after close to 6 years, and it was time to replace it. Being me, I didn’t want to just buy an off-the shelf machine – where’s the charm in that?
This one is a little different than my previous builds. I didn’t modify an existing enclosures this time, but instead created one completely from scratch. 3D modeled and 3D printed based on nothing more than my own ideas and my own measurements.
I do like reusing and repurposing existing things, and I try to not get stuck in a throw-away mentality. This new case is however entirely made from renewable or recycled materials. The main body is printed using biodegradable PLA plastic (made from corn starch or cane sugar). The only other parts of the case consist of a power switch and an LED, both taken from the failing computer it was meant to replace.
I had an idea of a completely smooth case without any visible corners, with a single air inlet on the top connected to the CPU fan. A number of smaller air outlets near the bottom would force the airflow to spread out around the motherboard and the rest of the components. The shape would initially resemble a simplified cloud, but that quickly changed.
I was impressed with the layout, performance and tweakability of the Asus H81T Mini-ITX motherboard that I used for the 1-Up NES case mod, and decided to use another one for the new case. Most important was the fact that the H81 has a rear power jack that fits standard laptop power bricks, and I could pick up a used one from Dell on eBay that worked right away, no modifications needed.
I used a modeling tool that I already knew; Tinkercad – a free, browser-based online CAD tool from AutoDesk. It has limited functionality and performance, and I’m planning on learning a “real” CAD program soon (Fusion 360?), but I was eager to get started right away. After a number of versions and revisions, I had a rough printed version (5) up and running 24/7 for about a month. After a lot of checks, changes and tweaks, I finally printed the final version (8) on my heavily modified RigidBot 3D printer. By now the initial project name Fluffy had changed to Frosty, and the design would now look more like snow than a cloud. I made a snowflake design for the air inlet, which also serves as a fan guard.
After sanding I applied a few layers of acrylic clear coating to get more of a snow crust look. PLA is notoriously hard to sand as it melts and clumps up if you go too fast due to the friction. I only went up to 240 grit, which is why the surface isn’t perfect. If this was a job for someone else I would go to at least 800 grit, but as it will only be used at home this is good enough.
When assembling the computer, pretty much everything fit perfectly. I only had to drill the hole for the LED a tiny bin larger and use a scalpel to shave off about 0.2mm for the power switch.
Unless you have your ear right next to the computer, you can’t hear it running. Since I use an SSD, the only moving part in the computer is the CPU fan, and Intel did a fantastic job with making it whisper quiet – at least when enabling the Q-Fan control in the UEFI bios.
With the CPU on full load on all cores at 3.2Ghz, the computer is still almost dead silent and the CPU temperature is usually around 30°C.
All in all, I’m happy with the results. I’ve learned a lot and had fun doing so.